Today’s blogger is near and dear to me, my youngest brother, Jonathan. He attended BYU and then obtained his masters at NYU where he majored in Cinema Studies. Now he is working on his PhD. Jon served his mission to Brazil and knows three languages: English, Spanish and Portuguese. He is a man of many talents including photography, writing, and is an amazing pianist and composes his own music.
One of my favorite memories from our childhood is finding Jon at the bookstore with all the Hardy Boy books off the shelf and laid out in front of him. We were only allowed to buy two books and he was trying to narrow down his choices.
I just moved to a new area, and within the first month of living here, I decided to get a copy of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. There was a large blank wall that just seemed to be calling for something to be placed there. I asked myself more than once, “What do you need that for? You’re not married yet, so why do you need a copy of the proclamation?”
I went ahead and purchased a nice, framed copy of the proclamation, and I placed it right in the entryway to my house. I’m just renting this house, but it is a home for me. I see the proclamation every day, since I have to pass that spot before leaving the house. I don’t always stop to read through the proclamation, but there is one thing that always catches my eye: the subtitle, boldly declaring, “A Proclamation to the World.”
I am a single adult. I have been hoping and praying for a family of my own for some time, and for one reason or another, I simply haven’t had too much success in dating until recently. It didn’t seem to matter who I asked out or how often I went on dates, it just didn’t seem like I could ever get past the second or third date. I don’t know how many times I heard the phrase, “I’ve enjoyed getting to know you, but I don’t see this going anywhere. “ Sometimes that phrase would take on the form of “You’re a good friend and all, but…”
Despite the ups and downs of the dating life, my focus has continued to be on having my own eternal family. The proclamation has served as a constant reminder of what I am striving to obtain. As I pass by and see it hanging there, it causes me to ask myself, “What will I do today to prepare for an eternal marriage? How can I improve myself so that I can be a better husband and father?” While I am neither a husband nor a father yet, it doesn’t mean that I can’t improve on the qualities that I want to be able to share with my future spouse and children.
One of the passages in the proclamation reads: “Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” If I am not practicing those principles now, I won’t be able to teach them to my children. How can I expect to teach them the power of prayer and of scripture study if I ignore those seemingly small things in my life? How can I expect to teach them about love and respect if I give in to the degrading filth that portrays women as objects and not as “spirit…daughter[s] of heavenly parents?” How can I teach them the value of hard work and wholesome recreation if I am lazy or participate in activities that offend God?
For me, the proclamation stands as an ideal that I can strive for, even in dating. By striving to develop those principles in myself first, it helps me to recognize those qualities in others. It has also placed me in situations and environments where others are developing those same attributes. That’s how I met the girl I’m dating now: through wholesome activities and service projects in our singles congregation. Those same principles that helped us meet each other are what we continue to develop in our dating relationship. It’s worth quoting the passage from the proclamation again, with a slightly different emphasis: “Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith…” Oftentimes we look at that passage and think only about the maintenance aspect. Sometime we forget that in order for something to be maintained, it first needs to be established. And these principles shouldn’t just be established when a couple starts having children; they should already be developing those principles together before then.
Speaking of establishments, I wanted to share a thought that came up recently when I was talking with my girlfriend. I asked her what the proclamation meant to her, and she mentioned how we see so many families that have the proclamation hanging up on the wall. Why do we hang it up on the wall? Of course it is so that it can be visible to those who live in the home as well as those who visit the home, but it’s not too much of a stretch to think of it as something symbolic. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Helaman taught his sons about placing their faith in Christ. He said, “Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”
Our homes should first be built upon the foundation of Christ. It is in Him that we must place our faith, because it is only through Him that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father. But a foundation is meant to be built on; it isn’t a structure by itself. Upon that foundation, we can place the principles of raising a righteous family, one of the “walls” that give shape and substance to the structure of our lives.
The proclamation isn’t just for members of the church; it is a proclamation to the world. That’s one of the reasons I felt I needed to have a copy in my home. Each day, before going out into the world, I am able to see the proclamation to the world. The world tries to tell us that the family is up for interpretation. It tries to show us the immoral and the profane and present them as “normal.” And it’s not going to get any better. The family isn’t a social institution that can be dissected and rearranged; it is ordained of God. While I do not have a family of my own yet, I am still striving to build my home upon the foundation of Christ. The proclamation presents me with an ideal, but it also me lets me know that it is possible, and that it’s worth it. Each day, the proclamation helps me look to the future, to the time when I can finally marry and start a family of my own. It helps me examine my life and realize the ways in which I can be a better man, and how I can prepare to be a husband and father. The proclamation presents me with a pattern—a standard—and with it I can build; with it I can strive, and by it I can live…and hope.
The giveaway this week is a gift certificate from Family Tree and Me redeemable for any of their Photo Family Proclamations, including the shipping cost. Readers of the Family Proclamation Celebration can receive a 25% discount off the price of the print if you use this code: Family Proclamation Celebration.25 The discount is good until September 30th. All those comment on posts will be eligible for the giveaway.
Family Tree and Me delights in creating customized keepsake family photo art and would love the opportunity to make a meaningful art piece for you to display in your home. You provide the pictures and we create the art!